Friday, April 13, 2012

Adventures In Background Checks

If I could take one thing that I do as a school administrator and do it all day long, it would be interviewing night custodians.  We had a hard time keeping one a few years back so I had the good fortune to interview 50-75 candidates throughout one particular school year along side the district's head of building and grounds- Mike.

As I said in a piece I wrote on a lunch lady, there is no qualification (other than being alive) to get a job as a custodian.  However, while finding lunch ladies is a real pain, we receive tons of applications for custodial positions.  It's a good job for someone without a college degree.  They are full time jobs, receive full benefits, and the work isn't back breaking.

When you're sifting through applications and resumes, throw out everything you look for when hiring teachers or even support staff.  Most of these people don't have college degrees and some may not even have a diploma.  Most have resumes that are almost impossible to follow, and the candidates usually show up in jeans & T-shirt, versus a suit & tie.  Basically, it's impossible to know what's going to walk through the door.

Toward the end of each interview Mike would explain to the candidates if they got the job they would have to be finger printed and have a criminal background check done.  "Any problems there?" Every candidate automatically says no to this.   Except for John Rogers.

John was bizarre and wasn't going to get the job long before we go to the end of the interview.  When Mike asked him about the criminal background check, John instantly shook his head and said no.  Then he paused as if he suddenly remembered something.

"Ahh, you know what?  There might be a felony in there."  John mentioned this as if this wasn't a relevant detail.  I was stunned.  I figured Mike would basically end the interview as there was no possible way we would be hiring someone with a felony on their record to work at an elementary school.  But he didn't.

"What'd you do?" Mike asked.

"Criminal trespassing of an automobile." said John.

Mike squinted a little and looked hard at John.  "Did you steal a car?"

"No no no," said John shaking his head and chuckling a bit.  "Nothing like that.  Did you know if you're in someone's car and you like, get in an argument and they call the police, you can be arrested for that?"

Mike just starred at him. "Dude, did you steal a car?"

"No, no.  I had just moved to the county, and you know how they like to make an example out of new residents around here."

"I've never heard that," said Mike. "If you stole a car I wish you'd just tell me."  I couldn't understand why he was pressing this since we certainly weren't hiring this guy.  Regardless, I was barely holding it together.  We all say silently looking at each other for about 20 seconds.

"Oh!" said John as if suddenly remembering something he'd been meaning to tell us.  "There may be a few misdemeanors in there too.  Stole some shit when I was younger!  You know, typical kid stuff!"

We'll be in touch.

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